Success is a way of life for the former Los Angeles Lakers great. Though he’s faced his share of adversity over the course of his life, triumph is just assumed. Winning isn’t just a verb for Magic; it’s a state of mind. He snagged five NBA titles with the Lakers, has watched them win five more since he retired and he’s now a minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team he hopes will return to championship prominence soon.
His foray into the MLB aside, losing isn’t something Magic must take kindly to, because he isn’t used to it. Since he was a Laker all they’ve done is win in excess. It’s what they do. It’s what he did. Given all that’s went down over the last year, however, one would think their success wouldn’t be assumed, not even by Magic, the perpetual half-full glass man himself.
But if one thinks that, they’re wrong.
Asked if the Lakers were in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time 2005, the unpaid Lakers vice president couldn’t say yes, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan:
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Johnson said. “Last year was supposed to be bad. They still made it. They’re out in the first round, but the Clippers went out in the first round just like the Lakers and they won the division. I just hope they turn it around.”
While Johnson isn’t creating any false visions of grandeur by predicting the Lakers will win a title, he doesn’t seem too concerned about their present situation for a guy who still bleeds purple and gold.
Dwight Howard is gone. Kobe Bryant is still rehabbing his Achilles and God knows when he’ll be back. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol didn’t exactly embody durability last season. And role players like Nick Young and Wesley Johnson will see significant minutes on a team that’s supporting cast is often as heralded as their core.
Not to mention the Lakers play in the Western Conference, which remains deeper than the Eastern Conference. Injuries like the one sustained by the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook will always happen, and therefore give the Lakers different windows of opportunity throughout the year, but they’re not the healthiest of factions either.
Knowing all we know, then, isn’t the time to panic, to doubt them, now? When Kobe isn’t healthy? When a postseason berth seems to be their best-case ceiling and not inalienable right?
Apparently not. Magic isn’t the most objective analyst obviously, but he hasn’t sidestepped dissing his Lakers in the past. Last season he was often a source of outside doom and gloom. Now he’s Mr. They Can Do This. Go figure.
“Well, you don’t know until they play the games,” said Magic of the Lakers’ playoff chances. “They could be the eight seed. They could get the seven, eight seed.”
They could also miss the playoffs. That could happen. Even if Magic doesn’t believe they can. There are that many question marks hounding them, like an inebriated Rob Gronkowski at a frat party.
Or he could be right. Kobe could come back with a vengeance. They could make the playoffs. They could surprise some people.
Guess we’ll just have to wait and see, because Magic’s right about at least one thing—we won’t know until they play the games.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.